On 3 June, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published a report on waste prevention policies in Europe, with a focus on the issue of plastics and plastic waste. Overall, the report found that despite some progress and a clear commitment to address plastic waste in many countries, concrete prevention targets for various types of plastic waste are not widespread.
While close to half of the countries assessed (EEA member countries) have declared plastic waste a “priority waste stream”, only nine EU Member States have set concrete targets for its prevention.

In total, the EEA identified 173 measures having been implemented, of which around 37 were market-based instruments (mostly fees for plastic bags), 25 were regulatory instruments, and 30 were voluntary targets. 104 measures covered the production of plastic products and 69 their consumption. Five countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Romania and the UK) notably included numerical targets compared to a baseline. The EEA concluded that while fees on plastic shopping bags have contributed to significantly reducing their use, and subsequent waste, these should also be applied to other types or products, including plastic packaging waste. Prevention of single-use plastics and non-recyclable plastic products should be prioritized, the EEA said.

As a good practice example to address plastic waste, the EEA highlighted a combination of regulatory measures, such as bans, and softer instruments such as stakeholder agreements. These should also be accompanied by adequate training and capacity building.

The full report can be accessed here